I’d been sick for weeks; groveling in tributes to my body in the form of chicken soup and OJ. Lowering myself to this status began when I attended a speaking engagement on sexual assault and rape at a local college. I coughed mightily throughout the presentation. By the next day, both the experience and illness had thrown me into my bed. I felt beaten.
I wrote the previous paragraph a week before the rest. I was grabbing at wellness in my mind, but my hacking and spewing drove me to the emergency room once since. I’m still under the weather—struggling to write.
My speaking engagement to UMass students–Sorority sisters—still has me reeling. I spoke about sexual assault and rape. After five decades of experience, I found myself challenged—revictimized yet again. As I tried to decimate my experience with the system, there were those in the audience who countered the advice I had to give. A graduate student with a few years of school beat against my decades of experience with the current and past stance of the system’s railing against the exposure of predators—with a badge of honor depicted by a “survivors” badge. My collection of documentation was challenged by one student, as she asked, “How did you get the documents?” Who gives a rat’s ass how I got them. The points is, I got them and proudly display some of them here: https://joycebowen.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/deception/. When I told students of the post, not a single one (as far as I could tell) investigated the post. They seemed to dwell in their own preconceptions. It was like being faced with a brick wall. Women are being trained to believe they will be ineffective in pursuing the prosecution of their assailants.
I spoke of the need to allow evidence collection by law enforcement immediately. There were those in the audience promoting counseling first, which would have no further benefit than slamming the doors to law enforcement by allowing the degradation of evidence. SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) are specially trained to deal with victims of sexual assault and rape.
I spoke to a psychologist friend mine regarding the policies of schools promoting expulsion as a consequence of sexual predation, and he agreed this is a flawed system. Schools should be promoting prosecution. They do not. Why?
One student expressed a concern that victims consider the consequences of entering into the prosecutorial system. No doubt—it is a hard road. One need only follow the Harvey Weinstein story, where women needed to acquire their own Powerbase to be credible. In my case, I was made to feel criminal in my journey towards causing my attacker to be prosecuted. He was a horrific predator. Yet I was called a crusader by law enforcement as if sexual assault and rape should be considered a woman’s right of passage. Of course, it was a man who assigned that tag to me. I was appalled. But I had no Power and my attacker’s colleagues went to great lengths to shield him to the extent that laws were broken by doing so.
In my five decades of experience with the legal system, I have seen women and children demeaned and re-victimized. It’s as if we should be happy someone targeted us with unwanted attention. Should we feel honored that Powerful people chose to predate on us?
When I think of the “survivor” badge, I think of women who chose to come forward such as the Harvey Weinstein victims. They are true survivors. It is a shame that they could not come forward earlier because of fear of repercussions. But they did come forward. It imbues me with a sense of pride. It takes a great deal of courage to go up against such a corrupt system.
When it comes to colleges, one in four women will experience sexual assault or rape before they graduate. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if colleges and universities joined together to eradicate sexual predation instead of worrying about their reputations?
Copyright 2017 Joyce Bowen